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"My Breast Cancer Journey." Valerie's Story - part one

"We are supporting the fighters, admiring the survivors, honoring the taken & never ever giving up hope." To anyone who is battling cancer - or knows someone who is: Some of us can't even imagine. Some of us know all too well. But most of us have been touched in some way by cancer.

Valerie found out she had cancer just 3 days after her photo shoot with Sugar & Spice. We asked if she would be willing to allow us (all of us!) to follow her journey, and we are honored that she said yes - so here's part one of Valerie's story in her own words:


I was just so shocked to learn that 1 in 8 women will have breast cancer sometime in their life, early detection is so important. In January, I was overly confident in my control over my health. I exercised all the time, ate pretty healthy, and most importantly felt really good and strong!  When I found my own lump while taking a bath, I waited three days before making an appointment to get it checked out. I went to the Doctor feeling embarrassed and apologetic because I was wasting everyone’s time. She said not to worry, we will just get an ultrasound. Ok, I thought this is probably a cyst, so I went into that appointment thinking it was a cyst.

That appointment did not go as expected. I ended up having my first mammogram followed by an ultrasound, followed by a needle biopsy and clip placement (small titanium metal piece placed by the suspicious tumor), followed by another mammogram. Then I was told to wait 3-5 business days for someone to call me to tell me if I have cancer. It was Wednesday so I knew the earliest would be Monday.

Hey medical world: can’t we Amazon prime this?!

Monday at 4 pm, I got the call that I have cancer. Nothing prepares you for those words. Instant tears.  What now? I don’t have time for this! But I’m really healthy! I eat healthy and exercise all the time! I have no family history!  I could not have been more shocked by my cancer diagnoses. I was diagnosed with Invasive Lobular Carcinoma with Lobular Carcinoma In Situ. In March, my surgeons encouraged me to take a spring break trip that I had planned and then we would do a double mastectomy to cut the cancer out after my trip. During that one-week trip, our world changed.  Covid-19, the world pandemic of 2020, became a thing that changed our daily lives.  

When we returned from the trip, I was told I would not be able to have anyone with me before surgery or after in the hospital overnight. That was devastating.  

Are you telling me I am about to go through a major surgery by myself?  

I cried walking into the hospital, I cried before surgery, I cried when I woke up to strangers, I cried overnight in the hospital.  After surgery, I learned that the cancer had spread to my sentinel lymph node and that I needed to speak with an oncologist about the benefit of chemotherapy.  Ugh, are you serious? No thank you!  I met with 2 oncologists (because I needed a second opinion), they both told me I could benefit from chemotherapy.   

Next Thursday I will have my first Chemotherapy treatment.  I can do this! 

All my best! 


Valerie~ you CAN do this! We are all here for you, praying for you...and know that God's GOT this! We can't wait to photograph you for the happy-ending chapter of your story - to again celebrate your strength and beauty!

Clients, Fans & Supporters~ Follow Valerie's story & join us in supporting her - keep her and her family in your thoughts and prayers! Have some encouraging thoughts to share? Comment below. Know someone who might benefit from following Valerie's story? Please share.

xoxo - The Sugar & Spice Girls

Giving back to courageous women like Valerie:

When a woman is diagnosed with cancer, her life is turned upside-down and trips to the hospital instantly become the new routine.  By focusing on her, we put cancer in the background and capture her smiles, forever preserving images of courage, beauty & dignity.

Each month, we are donating a photo shoot and photographs to one courageous woman.  To nominate someone for a free photo shoot, complete the nomination form HERE (nominee can be yourself!) & feel FREE TO SHARE!



Sugar & Spice Photography is a Minnesota based, women-owned small business that specializes in boudoir and pinup photography.  

WE ARE...moms, wives, engaged, divorced or single women...and we are on a mission to share our passion with you!  Our intimate & tasteful boudoir photography is created to...

...CELEBRATE each woman's individuality, helping them to look and feel beautiful, be playful and ooze sexuality with dignity, elegance and class.

...ENLIGHTEN and empower the women that we touch, and help them realize that they are beautifully and wonderfully made by their Creator.

...TRANSFORM and unveil the inner bombshell of each woman, by pampering her, laughing with her, and making her feel as amazing as she is!



A boudoir photography shoot with us is done tastefully and beautifully with an all female team to nurture your comfort and ensure that you feel pampered, empowered & sexy!  Nervous?  We will coach you through the entire amazing, super fun experience…from outfit selection to posing!  We’ll give you the Hollywood treatment and help bring out your inner supermodel!

Our sessions INCLUDE hair styling - with clip-in hair extensions at no additional cost, professional photography makeup & false lash application.   

Our drawers and closets are OVERFLOWING with smoldering lingerie & sexy costumes in sizes 0-26 and tons of shoes, accessories and props for you to choose from!

We have an adorable studio with more than 20 amazing sets and countless props: from the bedroom the kitchen the locker room ...and everything in between!  

Say BUH-BYE to lumps & bumps, cellulite, stretch marks, scarring & unwanted tattoos!   We will contour & shape body to enhance your natural beauty.  YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A SIZE 2 TO DO THIS!!!! We have photographed women of ALL shapes, sizes & ages & we are masters of retouching.  Our amazing products (which include albums, magazines, calendar & more) INCLUDE body shaping & retouching.

You may be shocked that the perfect gift for him...turns out to be the perfect present for you, too….!  Check out hundreds of testimonials from our clients who left their session feeling empowered, confident, beautiful and sexy!  Discover your inner bombshell with a boudoir photo shoot with Sugar & Spice Photography.



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